Slip and Falls on an Escalator: Who Should Pay For Your Damages?

When you’ve suffered a slip or trip and fall on an escalator, it’s hard to know who should pay. Learn about escalator injury liability.

Escalators and elevators are two of the most useful devices of modern society. They allow people to access places they would otherwise not be able to reach. They also make our urban and suburban architecture possible. This is especially true for high- and mid-rise buildings that would not be workable with long staircases and ramps.

Because they are powerful machines, elevators and escalators can cause severe injuries. Escalators in particular can cause people to slip, trip and fall. These falls can cause lacerations, broken bones, head injuries or worse.

Having to deal with and recover from one of these injuries is bad enough. But if you also have to make a claim or file a lawsuit, you could have more problems. A lawsuit for a trip or slip and fall injury that occurred on an escalator can be complicated. There may be several different people and companies responsible for your injury.

This article looks at the basics of escalator accidents. We’ll examine the parties that are potentially responsible for those incidents, and the evidence you’ll need to find to have the best chance of getting compensated for your injury.

Injuries From Escalator Slip and Falls

Photo of an escalator

Slip and fall accidents are common across a wide variety of situations. When they involve heavy machinery, injuries can potentially become much more serious.

For example, if a grocery store left a puddle of water in the middle of a store and a customer slipped on it, they could suffer broken bones and a concussion. Even more serious injuries, like traumatic brain injury, may result. Now, let’s imagine that same slippery puddle of water on a moving escalator.

Instead of falling and coming to rest on the floor, the customer now slips and falls into a moving machine. They can now be further injured when they are pulled along the metal track of the machine. The jagged teeth of escalator stairs can also catch clothing or skin. This can cause even more serious injuries.

Besides typical slip and fall injuries, escalator and elevator accidents can result in the following:

  • Foot and leg injuries. Shoelaces or pant legs can get caught in escalator machinery. This can result in fractures and even traumatic amputations of toes or feet, often involving children.
  • Hand and arm injuries. Many escalator injuries happen to the feet and legs. But if you fall into machinery hands-first, your fingers can be lacerated or amputated by the machinery.
  • Degloving. Also called avulsion, this can happen when the skin gets caught in machinery and rips away from the underlying tissue. Degloving injuries can go all the way to the bone and may be life-threatening.

Escalator-related injuries can range from painful to disabling and even deadly. If you or a loved one is injured in an escalator accident, get appropriate medical treatment. After that, you can focus on who is responsible for your injuries and how to get compensated.

Who Should Pay for Your Trip or Slip and Fall

Maintenance person working on an escalator

Slip and fall claims are usually premises liability claims. You assert these against the owner of the property and/or the owner of the business where you were injured.

While the property owner and business owner may be the same person, this isn’t always the case. It’s crucial to know exactly who owns the property and who is using it.

Like residents of homes and apartments, many businesses lease their property. A store may have an escalator on its premises. But that escalator is likely maintained by whoever actually owns the building. If it is, then the owner of the building plus the tenant business should be the subject of your claim.

The business or property owner may have a separate maintenance company that cleans the property. That maintenance company should also be a target of your claims. Also keep in mind that there may be a company that specifically maintains and works on escalators in business locations.

These maintenance companies take special responsibility for the care of these machines. Thus, their carelessness can and should give rise to a claim. Their negligent behavior should be part of the lawsuit alongside that of any other liable parties.

Finally, don’t forget that your injury could have resulted from a manufacturing or design defect. A defective escalator would be the subject of a product liability claim and therefore must not be overlooked.

Gathering Escalator Injury Claim Evidence

Woman walking with crutches during a physical therapy session

You don’t always have to file a lawsuit for an injury. Most people settle out of court with an insurance company. Whichever route you take, though, you need to have solid evidence supporting your personal injury claim.

Start a claim file with critical evidence for your personal injury claim. That job starts with evidence of your medical treatment. This includes medical bills, letters from doctors, and other information relating to your prognosis. Make sure to include bills and records for necessary physical therapy or psychotherapy.

If your injury has left you disabled, you will also need evidence showing lost wages or lost earning capacity.

Child injury claims require special handling. If your child is the one who has been injured, speak with a personal injury attorney about finding an appropriate consultant who can measure how their injury will affect their life as an adult.

It’s also important to think about the pain and suffering that you or your loved one has suffered. If the injury was particularly serious, it may cause problems throughout your life. Medical and testimonial evidence of those problems is critical.

Of course, don’t overlook evidence showing that the people or companies you sued were at fault. If there was a dangerous condition on the escalator, try to get photos of the hazard as soon as you can.

Also determine, as quickly as possible, the identity of the property owner, person or entity controlling the property, and any companies that cleaned or maintained the escalator. Keep in mind that escalators are complicated pieces of machinery. You may need to speak with an attorney about finding an expert to help you figure out what happened.

Once you have obtained the information you need, organize the information in preparation for negotiations with the insurance company. The evidence you’ve gathered may also be a helpful roadmap for your lawyer to further pursue your claim. Either way, gathering this evidence is a good use of your time.

Take Control of Your Injury

Because escalators are large and powerful machines, escalator injuries can be especially horrifying. Machines do not have awareness and can lacerate, amputate and maim in a heartbeat. That is precisely why the people who use these machines in their business need to make sure they are as safe as possible.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a slip or trip and fall accident involving an escalator, do not delay. Begin the process of gathering evidence for your claim as soon as possible. Contact a qualified personal injury lawyer in your state for a free consultation and helpful legal advice.

Matthew Carter, Esq. has been a licensed attorney since 2004. He’s admitted to practice law in California and Nevada, where he was awarded the Martindale.com rating of AV – Preeminent. Matthew has successfully handled a variety of personal injury and wrongful death cases, as well as trials, appeals, and evidentiary hearings throughout state and federal... Read More >>